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The benefits of training to music and making your best playlist

SuuntoRun — 27 април 2020

A rocking playlist can boost athletic performance and good times.

DJs have an uncanny ability to sense the mood on the dancefloor and the perfect gem to drop to bring the crowd up or down. You can learn to do the same with your own workouts!

We recently spoke to DJ act the Mambo Brothers about workout music and how to put together a playlist that makes you want to move – see below!

The Mambo Brothers, Christian and Alan Anadon, have been living and breathing electronic music since they were kids. Their parents were founders of the legendary Cafe Mambo Ibiza where some of the world’s biggest name DJs have come to play. Now full time DJs themselves, they try to exercise everyday to stay in balance.

In a new partnership with Suunto, the Mambo Brothers put together three playlists for Suunto users to enjoy on their next workout. The first playlist is ideal for recovery and chilling. The second playlist is more upbeat. And the third playlist is suited to an intense workout.


© Kevin Scott Batchelor


Play your own favorite tunes from your wrist

With the Suunto 7 smartwatch you can connect your headphones to your phone and control music and other audio – adjust volume, pause and skip tracks – straight from your wrist without taking your phone out of your pocket.

You can also listen to music without your phone: Spotify has just released an update to their Wear OS app that enables offline use. Simply connect your bluetooth headphones with your watch and download the tracks that you want to take with you!

With this new feature, Spotify Premium users will be able to download their favorite albums, playlists, and podcasts to listen offline. Free users will be able to stream their tunes in Shuffle Mode using a WiFi or cellular connection, as well as download any of their favorite podcasts directly to the watch.



The right music can boost performance

There are numerous studies that have shown the performance boosting potential of music. As always with scientific research, the findings are complex and contingent. To simplify things, the National Center for Health Research breaks down the benefits of listening to music while working out into two main categories: physical and psychological benefits.

Boosting physical performance

For you pop, rock and electronic music lovers, there’s good news; studies show that listening to music with between 120 and 140 beats per minute (BPM) can improve athletic performance. It can improve your pace, effort, overall distance or number of reps. Studies have shown cyclists can push harder when listening to faster tempo music. Another study discovered that our inbuilt rhythm response – the tendency to synchronise movement with music – helps runners to keep pace. Slower music, between 85 and 115 BPM, can also help to reduce your heart rate, suggesting it might be good to listen to during your warm down or recovery.

Psychological benefits

Listening to music has a massive impact on our perception and mood. One study found that listening to music you enjoy can elevate your mood and improve self awareness. It also distracts you from the sometimes unpleasant sensations of your workout, such as a thumping heart or tired and shaky muscles. And these two seem commonsense: music can kick you in the butt and get you out the door for a run, according to this study, while this study suggests it makes workouts more fun (we knew that!) Lastly, it also reduces your perceived level of exertion and can delay on the onset of fatigue!


5 tips to create an awesome workout playlist

Get the mood right

“Make it happy and uplifting so you can feel the good vibes and positive energy,” The Mambo Brothers advise. “It’s amazing what music can make us feel!” Try creating different playlists from different moods. For example, you might want a different playlist for a morning run compared to a run after work. One playlist might fit better for when you have tons of energy and another for when you’re feeling worn out.

Pick the right BPM

This handy tool tells you any song’s BPM. The recommended BPM for low to moderate workouts is between 120 and 140 BPM. For activities like yoga, pilates or mobility exercises, choose songs between 60 to 90 BPM. For slightly more intense exercise, the BPM can be around 150. For full on exercise, like cross fit or indoor cycling, the BPM can be up to 180. Consider creating different playlists for different activity intensities.

Find the right rhythm

Remember the “rhythm response” we mentioned above? To benefit from this natural tendency, try to find music with a BPM that matches your desired pace. For runners, match your stride rate to BPM, and cyclists match the number of RPM to BPM. If you’re doing lifting weights, be careful not to go with music with crazy fast BPM – or you might hurt yourself!

Create a journey

Every successful DJ knows how to take the crowd on a journey. If they only play one style, or one intensity, people get bored. Try to select music for your playlists that give a sense of a beginning, a middle and an end. You want to experience some big highs and some mellow moments during your workout. Perhaps you know you tend to struggle at around the three quarter mark of your long run, for example, so build in some bigger sound, faster tempo tunes for then in your playlist.

Test it out

No playlist is ever really finished. Feel free to make changes as you go so you get it just right. “Make a draft playlist, try it out while training, and if one tune doesn’t work delete it from the list,” the Mambo Brothers advise. “After three or four workouts, you should have a playlist that can really motivate you!”


Lead image: © Philipp Reiter


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